RAYA gears up for Tri-Rails to Trails fundraiser

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 17, 2013

ROCHESTER — Rochester Area Youth Assistance invites people of all ages to hop on their bikes and hit the trails for its first Tri-Rails to Trails fundraiser.

Jim Blundo, chairman of the RAYA board, said Tri-Rails to Trails — held Aug. 10 — is meant to be a fun bike ride, not a competition.

“We’re excited about it because we’ve never had a signature event. We’ve done lots of fundraisers, but never done a signature fundraiser to raise money each year,” he said.

The event, which runs 8 a.m.-2 p.m., starts at the Rochester Fire Department, 277 E. Second St., in downtown Rochester. From there, participants have the option of biking 12 miles west on the Clinton River Trail, from Rochester to I-75 and back; 19 miles on the Paint Creek Trail, from Rochester to Lake Orion and back; or 25 miles on the Macomb Orchard Trail, from Rochester to the Van Dyke overpass and back.

RAYA board member Barbara Barnes said the event is a wonderful way to exercise while supporting a worthy cause.

“I have been involved with biking for years and years and years — to the point that my husband and I got 17,000 miles on our tandem, let alone all the rest of the miles that we’ve been doing several years — so it’s always been a passion of ours,” she said. “When we started talking about what would be a way to get funds for our community, it came up to us that this would be a great way of doing it, to get others that like to bike, too.”

Participants are encouraged to register by July 26 to be guaranteed a T-shirt. The fee is $25 per person or $60 per family. Late registration for the event begins at 7 a.m. at the corner of Second and Elizabeth streets.

Blundo said Tri-Rails to Trails was designed to raise money to help the organization strengthen youth and families, and to reduce delinquency, abuse and neglect through volunteer involvement.

“We rely on support from the community for prevention programs and helping kids in different ways. That’s why we wanted to do it,” he said.

“This will give us a lot more opportunities for reaching the youngsters we would like to be reaching,” Blundo added.

Sponsored by Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Rochester Community Schools, the Oakland County Probate Court and the Oakland County Probate Court-Family Division, and run by a volunteer board, RAYA provides short-term counseling, mentor programs, financial assistance to qualifying families for before- and after-school programs, family education classes, a youth recognition awards program and the Camp Safari summer recreation program.

For more information, visit http://www.raya-mi.org or call (248) 656-3558.